The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a non- profit public broadcasting television service with a network of member stations throughout North America. PBS has brought us a great deal of educational programming that we undoubtedly would not have been able to enjoy were it not for their presence.
Many of us have had the great fortune to be practically raised on PBS’s educational children’s television programming. The magic of PBS’s children’s television shows lies in the fact that PBS has the ability to actually make learning fun. As a child of the first generation to be entertained by some of PBS’s most famed children’s television programs, I can honestly say that I learned a great deal from those shows. Learning from such colorful and imaginative ways helped to promote and foster the total educational experience much more than any ordinary teacher could ever do. I’m sure that there are many other people out there who share these sentiments:
Let’s take a trip down memory lane in order to revisit five of our childhood memories of some of our favorite PBS children’s educational television shows:
Mister Rogers Neighborhood (1968 – 2001): Fred Rogers was the guy that we all wanted to be friends with. He would burst into our living room with his red sweater and tan pants, slip into his comfortable shoes and then proceed to totally entertain us for the whole of a half an hour. Entertaining any kid for a solid half hour is quite an accomplishment…especially one like me with ADD. Do you remember when Mister Rogers would ask the question “please won’t you be my neighbor?” Purchase Fred Rogers – America’s Favorite Neighbor from Amazon.com.
Sesame Street (1969 – Present): This show should be the reason for a new category of television show, I’ll call it edutainment. I don’t know if this exists already but pardon me if it does. Sesame Street combined Muppets with people and learning to create an explosion of educational entertainment. Can you remember back to the time when you looked forward to the conversations between Bert and Ernie and you felt sorry for Big Bird because no one believed that Mr. Snuffleupagus existed? You can purchase Sesame Street – Old School, Vol. 1 (1969-1974) from Amazon.com.
The Electric Company (1971-1977): Who didn’t love this show? The Electric Company is kid-friendly sketch comedy at its best. We would laugh ourselves silly and be totally oblivious to the fact that we were learning. This is the show that introduced kids to Morgan Freeman, Joan Rivers and Bill Cosby. Can you recall Rita Moreno’s voice shouting “Hey You Guys!” Purchase The Best of the Best of Electric Company from Amazon.com
3-2-1 Contact (1980 – 1988): This is the show that made science fun. 3-2-1 Contact was geared towards older audiences (9-14) and it consisted of a trio of likeable older teens who would take the audience on a scientific learning experience. The show also introduced us to The Bloodhound Gang segments. Can you recall that infectious theme song “3-2-1 Contact, is the moment, is the reason–why everything happens….” Or wait, what about this theme song “Whenever there’s trouble, we’re there on the double, we’re the bloodhound gang. If you’ve got the crime, we’ve got the time, we’re the bloodhound gang.” Unfortunately there are no available releases for this show.
This is just a very short list of the educational children’s programming that has made PBS an important part of television history. Whenever you’re flipping through your TV stations and you see that your local PBS station is having a pledge drive please don’t forget to contribute because truly—if not for PBS, then who?